August 18, 2010


Dissociation: Questioning Reality

I'm behind on everything. I know I haven't been around to visit your blogs and I'm sorry about that. We lost our host for the month of August for The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse and I may just let it slide.

What is happening with me is that I'm swimming in the deep, dark hole of dissociation. I'm trying to figure out just what it is in my anguished memory that has me reeling every August and basically makes my life from August through the holidays almost a complete wash.

The memory iceberg I've started to chip away at with my therapist is extremely complicated. It's going to take a lot of work. And the fear of the feelings that this chipping away activity will reveal, naturally for me, leads to a lot of dissociation. Luckily--at the moment, anyway--I'm able to observe this dissociation, rather than getting suicidal or running away in dissociative fugues. Both of these less attractive alternatives I have experienced in the Fall many, many times.

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The other day, for example, I was experiencing a great amount of derealization after my therapy session. This particular time, it was not a particularly unpleasant experience, but it is always strange and bizarre. I was fixing dinner and realizing that I was not quite sure who it was who lived in this house where I found myself in the kitchen. I was waiting for some stranger to walk through the door and ask what the hell I was doing in their house. But, as I looked around, I noticed it was a nice house and I was glad to be there. I kept the panic that can often arise at these moments at bay by reminding myself that my husband was the one who would actually be walking through the door--home from work--at any moment. Fortunately, I was not experiencing depersonalization at the same time; the panic would have been harder to suppress otherwise.

I don't know if anyone I meet will ever fully understand the concept of dissociation, if I, myself will ever fully understand it, or if any "expert" in the field will ever sufficiently explain it to me. But, let me bring something to your attention that you may be able to relate to.

Have you had a chance yet to see the movie, Inception? In the movie, the characters are forced to question their reality again and again. I think dissociation is very much like that. Just imagine in addition, however, that while you are questioning your reality, you are also questioning who the hell you are.


I think I'd like to see this movie...
I really relate to what you're saying. I often don't recognize my face in the mirror, say things I can "hear" myself saying but it isn't "me", write things I have no recollection of writing.
I don't know which "me" is "me".
Marj, mill of hugs to you. Reading this artcile shows that during writing you were very much in here and now. Even can see that while you do it it has become a diffent quality too through this chipping away. For me it wasnt a season yet GERMANY. Immediately feel unreal when in Germany. Has improved greatly yet it isnt gone completely. Hence I am so glad that my time here comes to an end.

You are strong and have come a long way. Thinking of you and sending you good vibes. Love from my heart to yours
Oh Marj, that's ok. We all have struggles and that's ok. Do you have hosts for the rest of the year?

That must be very confusing to wonder who you yourself are. It does sound like progress is being made if you can observe the dissociation rather than just be engulfed by it.

Take care of yourself! Thank you so much for an update! *hugs* <3
I love this and can relate to it so much. I especially love you distinction that in disassociation, as you are questioning where the hell you are, you are also questioning who the hell you are.
Marj, I am so very sorry what you are experiencing. No, I will probably never understand what true dissociation is like. What you explained I am sure is ten times worse in real life. Appreciate you always dear one and even your encouraging comments to me.... Blessings and (((((Marji))))
I so appreciate your comments and support, everyone. Thank you. I will respond to each of you individually as soon as my brain seems to be functioning somewhat better. ((((( *hugs to all* )))))
dear marj~ i'm so sorry to hear you've been struggling.

i see dissociation as a protective mechanism. putting distance between your consciousness and what is scary or upsetting. but then the problem is when the dissociation itself becomes scary and upsetting too. as you know, i'm no expert, this is just my perspective. i've never been diagnosed with dissociation, but what you describe feels familiar to me.

i'm wishing you safe, peaceful feelings and that you are able to find a way to feel grounded and calm as much as possible during this difficult time of year.
hi marj~ i wanted to let you know i mentioned your blog in my last post.

i hope you're doing ok. sending safe and peaceful wishes your way~~
Grace: ((((((safe hugs to you my dear)))))) The part about the hearing the words coming out of my mouth but it isn't me is one of the most frustrating and disturbing ones for me personally. I so understand. And, with the goal of integration, I don't know which "me" we're shooting for either. Thanks so much, Grace for your understanding and support. You take gentle care.

Paula: Hhhmmm...Germany is really the triggering place, huh? I haven't found that to be the case for me. I though I'd receive a lot of relief moving so far away from Illinois, but it didn't happen. I so hope you find relief with your American move. Welcome to the U.S., Paula! Thanks for your words of encouragement and confidence. I know the progress you're talking about it true, it's just hard to believe it when I'm in the middle of something sometimes. Love to you, too! :)

IK: Thanks for your understanding and concern about the carnival. I have a host lined up for September that I'm quite sure will be a go, but I don't have any hosts set up after that. So, I guess I need to start looking into that. Thanks for your encouragement!

White Rose Girl: Thanks for coming back and leaving a comment again. That IS a good distinction, isn't it? I don't think it really quite hit me like that until I saw the Inception movie. Not knowing the reality of your surroundings OR the reality of YOU is really the kicker, isn't it?

JBR: I appreciate you coming to my blog, giving me your blessings, words and hugs, even if you DON'T understand dissociation...especially so, actually. You are so appreciated. And, I like the way you call me Marji sometimes, too. I haven't really shared this, but I often refer to my inner child self as Marji, and that's exactly the unique way I have of spelling it. *hugs*

Katie: I think what you've described as the survival miracle of dissociation AND the dysfunction of it later in life is perfect and right on. Thanks for those safe and peaceful feelings.

And I will check out the awareness post you mentioned. Thanks! You're a sweetheart! :) xoxoxo
Sending you lots of hugs and love.

If you want me to fill in and host for August just let me know (if it is too much to even think about right now I totally understand, but just thought I would throw the offer out there in case!)
Hurray, you are around again :-) Love to you
Tracie: Thanks for that love and those hugs...and the offer. That's sweet! With August almost over already, I think I'm okay with just blowing this month off. Maybe you could do a month after September? Let me know.

Paula: Thanks for checking back. Lots of love to you, too, deary! :)
I'm available any month you need me! Seriously. Just let me know =)

Love to you!!
Marj, sending you lots of love and hugs. I don't have dissociation to deal with so I can only imagine what you must be going through. From Thanksgiving through Easter are the hardest times of the year for me to deal with and I have no idea why. The past few years have been better so maybe I am over whatever the problem was. How do you work on something when you have no clue what the problem is?
Marj - I do so relate to your sense of dissociation! I understand it well. And the thought of something trying to come to the surface. My movie reference point is The Bourne Identity - where he has amnesia and is trying to remember a previous life - that comes through in little pictures (flashbacks). Very disorienting! For me, it was June or my birthday in January that were the anxious times. When I finally remembered - I still had a lot of feelings to work through, but things made sense for the first time! Hang in there!
Tracie: Thank you so much, sweet lady, I definitely WILL let you know!

Patricia: Thanks for coming over with your supportive comment. I, myself, really struggle with the holidays as well. But, I usually get a respite between Jan 1 and Easter. Easter is hard as well. I think the "fall freak-out", as I call it--starting when the kids go back to school--has to do with both of my abusive parents being teachers. Yes...I said...teachers! Hard to believe, yet true!

Dan: Thanks to you, too, for coming over with your support. I can definitely relate to the little flashback pictures. And my birthday is often hard, too. It is in November, so it's kinda stuck in the middle of the fall-to-holiday time.
I've seen Inception. Great movie. And I also can relate to your "fixing dinner" moment. Had a similar thing happen to me at the grocery store : It was like I didn't know why I was there and asked myself: "What am I doing here?" How can you get over such an experience?
Leah: Nice to "see" you. Thanks for your comment. Your grocery store example (I've had that same type of experience) reminds me of the movie when they point out that, in a dream, you don't remember how you got where you are. In my grocery store-type moments, I ask "What am I doing here?" and I also ask, "How did I GET here?" Thanks for sharing. It really does help to know I'm not alone in this.
Marj, it bums me out to know that 4 months out of the year ,y friend is "in battle". The positive thing is that throughout the years that I've known you and read your blog, you have made amazing changes and shifts in your thinking, and doing. You have been doing such hard work on yourself and with your counselor. I know that it hasn't magically removed the disassociation or depersonalization, but I hope that it has added more tools to your "tool box" when you find yourself working on hard moments. Im already starting to see you do it through what you write.

Marj, you are loved, cared for, and have people in the waiting should you need support. Me included.
Sending you lots of positive vibes and safe hugs.
Hey Marj...I totally get disassoication. I lived it for so long...separate..apart from myself...outside of me...distant from life and people...there but not really a fog..a haze. It gets better though. My therapist used to say for every two steps forward one back. Hated hearing that...but I think now...she was right. Hang tight ok. In your corner
ahh hthe world of dissociation, we completely get this blog thankyou for sharing what so many of us feel. Hugs to you-etal
Jade: Thank you for your thoughtful comment, my dear friend. You're right: I do have more tools in my toolbox now, and I've learned how to use them. I'm glad I keep this blog, if for no other reason than to remind me of this progress. Thank you, too, for the reminder...and for that sweet support, vibes and hugs. xoxoxo

Sarah: Thanks so much for being in my corner and for showing how you relate in your kind comment.

Cupcakes: You're welcome for the sharing. It helps me, too, of course. AND thank YOU for the hugs. (((((((Backatcha, sweeties!)))))))
How ya doin these days my Colorado friend?
Marj, I haven't yet seen this movie... Not sure it will be good for me. The trailer left me disoriented. I'm sorry you've been having a hard time.
Marj, I had to return and share with you. All my body symptoms are bugging me BIG BIG TIME currently yet I did manage something I never managed before. I stood my ground. First I thought I am in high stress, higher stress, did all to hold me and whilst I struggle with my body big time, I did manage: I hold off the dissociation. Marj, it is getting better and better. There is hope and improvement. And you will see further improvement too. Thinking of you.
Jade: Thanks for checking back, my sweet friend. I think I'll put up a quick update post.

Paul: Hey, thanks for stopping by. Nice to "see" you. Yeah, if the trailer was disorienting, the movie would probably be too much so.

Paula: I'm sorry about the body memories. I know it's hard not to dissociate with them. Good for you. We are both healing and getting better and better. Thanks for that reminder, deary! *hugs*
"Derealization" - THANK YOU!!!
I am so sorry about not hosting August. I hope it didn't cause you more stress and make your dissociation worse. Truly, I'm sorry. ... I have finally posted why I have not been on my blog lately and have not been commenting to others. I hope you forgive me...

I do want to host the carnival, tho, so if anyone else cancels, please let me know as I'm hoping the "danger" is no longer a threat.
Percheron Gray: Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment. Yes, it is helpful to know what these things ARE that we are dealing with, huh? Today is a therapy day and I will probably be a bit out of it, but later I will come over and check out your blog and leave a comment.

Ivory: Oh, sweetie, please don't worry at all about the carnival. We all have things to deal with and things come up with hosts or we have a scheduling conflict all the time. I usually just juggle things around and work it out. It was me who just didn't feel up to it last month. We're cool. And I may, indeed, need you to host coming up here at the end of the year, thanks. You stay safe; that's the most important thing. *safe hugs*
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